Where Deaconess Health System CMIO Dr. Diane Hunt will focus in 2019: EHR driving physician productivity metrics, consumer-driven apps & more

Diane Hunt, MD, chief medical information officer at Evansville, Ind.-based Deaconess Health System, discusses expanding technologies of the patient portal and how consumer-driven health apps are becoming important for both patients and clinicians.

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How did you become a CMIO? What is your background and what advice do you have for aspiring CMIOs?

Dr. Diane Hunt: I'm a family practitioner by trade and kind of fell into the clinical informatics side of medicine by accident. When I graduated from residency, the organization I joined was looking for physicians willing to go live on their first ambulatory EHR, and since I was just starting a practice, it seemed optimal for me to be the guinea pig for the organization. Unfortunately, that first implementation was a disaster, and I knew that we needed to have more physician involvement to make transitioning to the electronic record a success for our providers.

The experience led me to initiate a conversation with our CEO about the need for a physician champion and my eventual transition to that role. Over time, I felt that I needed to get some formal training to back up those initiatives I was leading for our organization. I went back to school and got a master's degree in medical informatics, and eventually I was able to get my board certification in clinical informatics, as well. That physician champion role transitioned to a medical director role and eventually the move to the CMIO role I am in at this time.

My advice to aspiring CMIOs is to simply get involved. There are so many initiatives out there right now in our field that really you just need to find one that you are passionate about and jump in. Clinical informatics is such a diverse field that allows us to improve patient care across the spectrum, so there really isn’t a wrong direction you can take so long as you are getting involved.

Q: What is the vision for your team in 2019? How will you approach your role and meeting your goals?

DH: Our team is really focusing on the overall patient and provider experience in 2019.We have spent a long time getting providers to use the system, and now it's time for us to really put some focus on making those processes work for our healthcare system. The data we can get from our EHR system is really allowing us to drive those physician productivity metrics, and we hope to expand on that even more in the realms of efficiency and training.

From a patient perspective, we want to make sure we are offering our services to our patients in a venue that is convenient for them and easy to use. We are working on expanding our technologies in the realms of the patient portal, telehealth and even scheduling. This is such an exciting time, and there are so many technologies available for us to capitalize on.

Q: Where do you see the biggest need for innovation to improve the healthcare system in the future?

DH: Integration across health systems and disparate EHRs as well as pulling in outside data continues to be an area of focus for us. Our EHR vendors have done an impressive job at making gains in this arena over the last several years, but our clinicians continue to want better and more ways to bring information into our system. We continue to make steps in the right direction, but the hunger for this information continues to grow at a fast pace.

Q: Which apps and technologies do you find most helpful, and which do you think will be passing fads?

DH: We are finding that integration with consumer-driven health apps is becoming important for our patients and clinicians, alike. I think this technology offers a fantastic opportunity for our providers to get a glimpse into our patients' lifestyle choices that ultimately impact their overall health. I think this technology will continue to improve and become more integrated into the EHR systems as our consumers push for this to be available to their physicians.

To learn more about clinical informatics and health IT, register for the Becker's Hospital Review 2nd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership Conference May 2-4, 2019 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.

More articles on health IT:
Allscripts to add PDMP access to all EHR systems
Crucial skills for aspiring CMIOs: Q&A with UCHealth's CMIO Dr. C.T. Lin
Leadership responsibilities of a CMIO & improving patient care: Q&A with CMIO Dr. Sarah Kramer

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